The lights are on
For day two of our week-long prediction special, we focus on all things Nintendo. Will the big N shock the world with its new 3DS handheld, or will it underwhelm hardcore gamers with the fancy heartbeat monitor known as the Vitality Sensor? Our guess is a little bit of both, plus some exciting new announcements regarding beloved franchises like Star Fox, Metroid, and Zelda.
Nintendo Introduces 3DS With New Mario FranchiseFor better or worse, Nintendo’s platforms are often defined by the Mario games that get released on them. The original trilogy of Mario platformers introduced families to the joy of the NES and cemented the company as a leader in video games. Mario 64 ushered in a different kind of 3D. Mario Galaxy proved that Nintendo’s more traditional hardcore fare could succeed with the Wii’s funky motion controls. We haven’t had a handheld Mario since the unbelievably successful New Super Mario Bros. on DS, so what better way to show us we need a 3D-capable handheld than with an ingenious new title starring everyone’s favorite plumber?Star Fox Makes Triumphant ReturnNintendo has quickly and thoroughly exhausted their lineup of triple-A franchises on the Wii. They’ve already released three Mario games, they’re working on a second Zelda, and a new Metroid will be out soon. Star Fox is due for a revival, especially since we haven’t seen a really great title in the series since the N64. Besides, what’s the alternative? A game starring Pit from Super Smash Bros.?Metroid Returns To 2D RootsSuper Mario Galaxy 2’s early sales have been somewhat underwhelming. Last years New Super Mario Bros. Wii, on the other hand, cleared nearly a million units in its first week, and that was just in Japan. Not to mention the fact that a 2D Mario probably cost half as much to develop. We have a feeling this means a few other Nintendo series will be getting the 2D treatment. The most logical series to receive the New Mario treatment next would be Metroid. With Team Ninjas’ Metroid: Other M all but out the door, you can bet that Nintendo has started planning Samus’ next adventure. Why not a return to the 2D roots that made this series a blockbuster in the first place? Sure, another handheld Metroid would be great, but we don’t think it’s too much to hope for a 2D Metroid on console given the success of games like Shadow Complex.Tomodatchi Collection Comes StatesideNintendo has a spotty track record of bringing games over from Japan to the United States (Mother 3, anyone?), but we’re expecting to see the quirky people sim Tomodachi Collection hit our shores later this year. Miis have been enormously popular amongst the casual set, and being able to play with them directly is an idea that households with Wiis and DSes will find irresistible. It certainly wouldn’t be a tentpole announcement, but Tomodatchi would be right at home in a montage video at Nintendo’s press conference.Third Party Publishers Ignore MotionPlusThe Wii MotionPlus accessory has been out for almost a year and publishers have essentially ignored the technology. Only a handful of publishers like Sega and EA have adopted the accessory, primarily for use in the very niche sports genre. With Sony and Microsoft aiming to reach out to the casual market via motion technology, an audience the Wii has had on lock for years, Nintendo will need all the Motion Plus support they can get. But will publishers oblige? Our bet is no.Rabbids Invade The 3DSAs with all new technology, we expect to see a flurry of games announced for the Nintendo 3DS this year. Who better to show off such new functionality than Rayman’s Raving Rabbids? Having usurped popularity from their once keeper, the Rabbids are not unfamiliar to the Nintendo DS. Their physical comedy and slapstick nature already make them larger than life, and their casual disregard for rules, regulations and even laws of nature open up limitless gameplay opportunities. To us, the 3DS feels like a perfect progression.Grown Men Cry (Again) After Zelda RevealIt's pretty much a given that Nintendo will blow out a new Zelda title, which it only teased at last year's E3. If the trailer is anything like the last big Zelda reveal, it will reduce grown men into pathetic sobbing masses. Seriously – we saw adults literally crying at E3 2004 when Nintendo showed the Twilight Princess trailer. We want to be understanding and say, "Hey, man. It's cool. There's no shame in crying," but we can't. Attention all buttercups: Please try to keep it together this year.Reggie Continues To Pretend Wii Has A Good Online Service"What if I told you that we already had an online strategy, and you just hadn't noticed?" proclaimed fanboy favorite Nintendo exec Reggie Fils-Aime two years ago. You know, Reggie, it's our job to notice this sort of thing. If gamers, the press, and developers don’t think you have an online presence worth mentioning, it's safe to say that you're not exactly leading the pack. Then again, Nintendo's press conferences have never been overly self-aware. Whether it's Cammie Dunaway awkwardly bantering with snowboarder Shaun White, the horror show announcement of Wii Music, or an embarrassing cacophony meant to show that Electroplankton (remember that?) is a revolutionary tool for creating synaesthetic art, there's never a shortage of disillusionment to go around. Nothing of note happened in the Wii online space last year (The Conduit, seriously?), and yet Reggie will probably try to sell us the fantasy that Nintendo really cares about online with the typical smoke and mirrors. Look, Reggie, we get it. Nintendo's overall gameplan doesn't focus on core gamers. That's fine; it's been an incredibly successful strategy that brought a company back from the brink of purple lunchbox-induced irrelevance. We would, however, appreciate it if you didn't rub salt in the wound by trying to sell us on something that doesn't exist.Betty White Demos Wii Vitality SensorEA's trotting out of an obviously unwell Muhammed Ali to shill for Fight Night years ago will finally be usurped as the tackiest corporate use of a senior citizen when Nintendo has the Vitality Sensor shown off by an older celebrity on stage. Our money's on Betty White. Nothing sells your product like a smiling, good-natured grandmother telling you that she worries about her grandkids' sedentary lifestyles and her blood pressure. You don't want to disappoint your gran, do you? You monster. Go buy a Vitality Sensor; your GBA-GameCube connectivity cable needs company in the box under the stairs. Dust doesn't collect itself, you know.
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E3 Prediction Week: Day One
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